Walk of the Week: Ben More and Stob Binnein

Ben More pictured in the distance.    Picture: Ian Rutherford.

Ben More pictured in the distance. Picture: Ian Rutherford.

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Apart from Carn Eighe and Mam Sodhail, no other pair of close-by peaks can match the height and symmetry of 1,174m/3,852ft Ben More and 1165m/3,822ft Stob Binnein, connected by the appropriately named 862m Bealach-eadar-dha Beinn, pass between two mountains – the ever-so-slightly lower Stob Binnein, with its unmistakable sawn-off top and the bulkier Ben More.

This Crianlarich Ben More (there are two others) is a brooding giant above the A85 and Benmore Farm, from where both peaks are commonly climbed. Ben More has a deceptively dangerous NW hanging corrie, an accident blackspot for the unwary if descending in bad weather. An icy descent in winter should perhaps be avoided.

Sadly, the slopes of Ben More have witnessed many an accident. In February 1987 the Killin Mountain Rescue Team was called out following a report of a climber having fallen. A helicopter being used to assist in the search crashed into the hillside and one team member sustained a fatal injury. The body of the climber was recovered the next day, concluding a truly tragic accident for two people and their families.

Small bits of the wreckage of the Vickers Viscount that flew into the hill in January 1973, killing all four occupants, can be found just below the summit. It had been on a 15-minute test flight from Glasgow airport.

THE ROUTE

A start from Benmore Farm reduces the distance, but gives a savage climb on the broad NW shoulder; 1,000m in just over one mile. There is limited verge-side parking just east of the farm, from where a short path leads to a broad track that curves and zigzags to a gate and fence at 300m, map ref 419255. (The track, part of the return route, continues around the lower slopes into Benmore Glen).

After a few yards, leave the track and head uphill ESE, then SE on the obvious, sometimes wet, Munro path (not so obvious if snow-covered.) Higher up, the path goes by the east side of an extended drystane dyke that guards the sharp slope close to the corrie. Once past the end of the dyke, the path zigzags to the rocky summit area, almost devoid of vegetation, with a big cairn then a trig point on a bare outcrop (visit both). It can be a soulless place on a day of drizzle and thick mist, the very conditions on my second round Munro party there. A walker appeared out of the mist, took our photo – seven wet hillwalkers trying to look jolly – then disappeared.

The route to the wide Bealach-eadar-dha Beinn is well marked. There is one immediate awkward slab, but this can be bypassed to the left. The acoustic qualities at the col can be astounding. Conversations from walkers 150m higher up may be heard with great clarity. A very large boulder, a useful navigational aid, is a good place to leave the rucksack if doing an out-and-back. Nevertheless, on my misty day my rucksack came with me on the 300m ascent to Stob Binnein.

The initial section is eroded, but the path improves on a steep rough slope with crags to the east to reach the tiny summit platform. For such a large mountain, the cairn is but a paltry pile of stones. Return to the bealach and descend west by grassy slopes, seeking out the path on the east side of the burn. Later, cross the burn and slant over a wet area into Benmore Glen. The remains of a bridge that spanned the Benmore Burn mark the original start of the track which, after a slight ascent, curves around the shoulder of Ben More to rejoin the ascent route.

DETAILS

Map Ordnance Survey map 51, Loch Tay & Glen Dochart

Distance 5 miles

Height 1,400m

Terrain Track and worn Munro path

Start point Verge-side parking, east of Benmore Farm, map ref 414259

Time 6 hours

Nearest village Crianlarich

Refreshment spot Ben More Lodge Hotel, Crianlarich

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